A Substitute for War

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Posts Tagged ‘Rajon Rondo

MVP/Power Rankings Monday – The 10 most likely future NBA MVPs (who haven’t won any yet)

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Kevin Durant waiting for the tip-off in OKC vs...

Kevin Durant is a near cinch for future MVP (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The NBA MVP feels the most important of the 4 major sports’. Since the best player in basketball matters more than the rest, so does the all-time rankings of players – and next to championships, MVPs are the most prestigious award they can get. Furthermore the NBA is unique from the other sports in that only the greatest talents even have a shot at the award, while in the NFL, MLB and NHL a very good but not transcendent talent can win an MVP if he breaks out to a spectacular statistical season. The MVP club is a much more exclusive lounge to join in the NBA.

Here are my rankings of who the most likely future MVPs are, among players who haven’t been awarded with one yet

Tier 1 – The frontrunners

1. SF Kevin Durant – A near lock to eventually get an MVP. He’s finished 2nd twice, is the dominant scorer in the league and is a media favorite due to his class and hard work. Most importantly perhaps is that winning an MVP just about requires finishing top 2 in the conference and Durant’s Thunder have the talent to consistently grab 1st and 2nd place finishes in the West for the rest of his prime. It’s much more likely Durant wins 2 or more MVPs than it is he wins 0.

2. PG Chris Paul – With 2nd and 3rd place finishes he’s proven he has the respect of MVP voters due to his transcendent true PG ability. Like Durant on the Clippers with Blake Griffin beside him he has the talent to lead a team strong enough to win an MVP and if the Clippers ever get that high, the narrative of saving that once tortured franchise will play in his favor.

3. C Dwight Howard – Like Durant and Paul he’s a consensus superstar who has 2nd, 4th and 4th MVP finishes. He’s easily the best at his position and the value of dominant two way centers has been recognized. My only concern with him is that after leading 59 W seasons in both 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, he still only was rewarded with 4th place finishes both years. Even in the year he finished 2nd many argued Derrick Rose didn’t have the same value to his team enough to beat him. Is it possible Dwight’s lack of dominant scoring talent and polish hurts his chances of getting MVP respect? Perhaps, but he deserves to be ranked top 3 at worst. Read the rest of this entry »

NBA Playoff Preview – The Biggest Questions

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Twas the night before the playoffs and all through the house, not a soul was stirring, not even Eddie House…

Rajon Rondo, the 21st pick of the Boston Celtics

Is Rajon Rondo the playoffs biggest X-factor?

Matt won’t be back till next week, so you’re stuck with me for A Substitute for War’s lack of playoff preview wisdom:

First, here are my opening round predictions:

East: Chicago over Indiana in 5, Miami over Philadelphia in 6, Boston over New York in 6, Orlando over Atlanta in 5.

West: San Antonio over Memphis in 5, LA over New Orleans in 5, Portland over Dallas in 6, Oklahoma City over Denver in 5.

Since that’s over, instead of spending a couple thousand words telling you why Chicago is better than Indiana or LA is better than New Orleans, I’ll spend some time dissecting the favorites and what they need to prove to win the title:

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Examining Steve Nash trade possibilities and the oversaturated PG market

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Steve Nash 00054121

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The Phoenix Suns need to trade Steve Nash this summer. At age 37 he has about one more year at this level and is an unrestricted free agent after the 11-12 season. Thus his is the last chance for the Suns to get value in return for their star. Virtually the only reason to keep him is ticket sales, which may be why Robert Sarver keeps him. But the Suns desperately need to take this oppurtunity to add young trade assets and start rebuilding. The longer they wait, the bigger the hole they create to climb out of.

Unfortunately for Phoenix, this is the worst possible trade market for Nash. With his age only teams looking to win a title now will be interested. But contenders like Boston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Chicago have PGs in place like Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, and Derrick Rose and won’t be interested. The win now teams where Nash fills a need like Dallas, Miami, the LA Lakers and Orlando have minimal trade assets. The lack of buyers for a PG Nash’s age and the lack of quality offers available on good teams diminishes Nash’s likely return. We are in the PG era.

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The Building (and the Luck) of the Celtics

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current logo 1996–present

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The Sloan conference, as one would expect, is producing tons of great food for thought. The latest article on TrueHoop reports on Boston Celtic co-owner Wyc Grousbeck‘s statements about building the current stellar Celtic teams. The gist:

Grousbeck and his partners bought the team in 2003 and apparently decided that while the team was good it wasn’t good enough to win a title, so they tore it apart and re-built it with the specific idea of acquiring a Big 3 with one true superstar among the trio. These guys sound like visionaries don’t they? The TrueHoop piece mentions the risk involved in such a move, but that just makes the ownership group look all the more bold and unwilling to accept any form of mediocrity

I don’t mean to knock the Celtic management, but I think it is wise to look at the details here to get a more nuanced perspective on thing.

Rebuilding not with a bang, but a whimper

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2011 NBA POY Watch 12/6

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My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1)

To me Dirk’s lead right now is pretty glaring.  It’s strange to me that he isn’t being talked about like the favorite.  He didn’t even win Player of the Month.  Dirk’s Mavs have almost the best record in the league, and they are totally dependent upon him bringing it every night.

2. Deron Williams (7)

There are a couple big shifts in my ranking this week.  I don’t like it because it forces me to face up to how much an inexact science this is.  However, the other guys who were in front of him have really been slipping.  Deron is the front and center superstar for a very strong Jazz team, he earns this place largely by having less caveats than the other candidates.

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2011 POY Watch 11/29

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My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (3)

We had two really strong candidates leading the way before this week.  They fell off.  Dirk is still going strong.  His team is a force to be reckoned with that shows no sign of going away.  And when the team does lose, it’s basically a given that Dirk will have turned in a heroic performance that just comes up short.

2. Chris Paul (1)

Ah man, the Hornets are plummeting back down to earth.  3 losses:  1 a blowout, 1 a choke, and 1 against the worst team in the league.  And Paul didn’t look like a hero in these losses.  He only drops one place for now, but it won’t take much for him to fall further.

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Written by Matt Johnson

November 29, 2010 at 2:59 am

2011 POY Watch 11/22

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My version of the MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Chris Paul (1)

Still the obvious choice. I’m hearing some people get confused because of Paul’s modest stats. Make no mistake, he’s dominating like an MVP – the Hornets have just been good enough to not need maximum doses of him.

2. Pau Gasol (2)

Caps the week with a ridiculously dominant performance against Golden State. It’s amazing how against how many teams in this league he is literally unstoppable. Also worth noting for all the talk about why exactly Gasol has so much more respect now than he did against Memphis – that the gap between his current performance and what he did in LA initially is pretty clearly bigger than between the first couple years in LA and Memphis.

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2011 NBA POY Watch 11/15

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Ordered by current ranking, here’s the top 10 with last week’s ranking in parens.

1. Chris Paul (1)

Unreal.  This Hornets club has to be one of the most surprising 8-0 teams in NBA history.  Paul clearly deserves a ton of credit.  He’s playing spectacular, and is the team’s star in really all senses.  The teams been extraordinary enough that I’d like to also give a shout out to rookie coach Monty Williams.  What a way to start a career.  The fact that it’s all being done with defense as the focus, and with Paul not playing huge minutes is stunning.

I’m still not a believer – I can’t quite picture this team being fitted for rings – but credit where credit is due, at this point it’s unfair to treat this like something could be due simply to luck.

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Written by Matt Johnson

November 15, 2010 at 4:24 am

2010-11 NBA Predictions: DPOY

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The Defensive Player of the Year is the most straight forward of the awards.  Despite the fact that defensive accolades in general tend have rather comical results, the DPOY tends to be pretty reasonable each year.  Dwight Howard has won the last two DPOYs, and there’s really no reason to think he’ll stop winning it any time soon unless he faces a serious injury.  He fits the bill for what everyone is looking for in a defensive player:  A big guy with the athleticism to rebound like a mad man, and the coordination to block a lot of shots.  He’s not perfect, but that just means he’s got room to improve to make his winning of future DPOYs all the more of a given.

I’ll give a shout out to two other guys though:

Andrew Bogut came alive as a defensive threat last year, actually out blocking Howard down the stretch, and helping turn the Bucks into an elite defensive team.  I think we’re all a bit shocked to see him develop this ability 5 years into his NBA career, and we all have doubts about his ability to improve further, but Bogut is definitely a man to watch going into this season.

Rajon Rondo.  I say the name, and I have my doubts that I’ll personally ever see him as DPOY worthy.  First and foremost, defense is a big man’s game, and point guard is the least valuable, and least effective defensive position in the NBA.  Part of that is the specifics of the modern game, with ball handling and passing skills so high, and the referee’s whistle so frequent, it’s becoming impossible to stop a great point guard on offense.  However, it’s been the case ever since the blocked shot came to prominence that nothing else gives offenses nightmares the same way.

My god though, does Rajon makes some spectacular plays.  He was without question the guy you wanted to watch in last year’s playoffs.  If Boston has a fantastic year led by a fantastic defense, and Kevin Garnett doesn’t suck too much of the credit away, Rondo could start getting some serious buzz for this award even if Howard doesn’t fall off.